The North of England was the birthplace of the industrial revolution and for centuries it has maintained a strong reputation for manufacturing. Lancashire saw the creation of the Spinning Jenny, Manchester was the meeting point for Mr Rolls and Mr Royce and Sheffield holds global status for steel production.
The North West in particular is the biggest of the English regions for manufacturing and it remains a key driver for economic growth. Yorkshire and the North East are not far behind with significant businesses in aerospace, chemicals, automotive and food and drink.
On the whole the UK is the sixth largest manufacturing nation in the world, and as we recover from economic uncertainty, the sector has never been more important.
For us to maintain our status as a global leader, it is essential that the government and private investors get behind manufacturing. Whether it be to pump oil and gas or build nuclear submarines, investment in the sector is crucial. We also need to offer more incentives to drive deal activity away from the South East and boost the Northern regions to strike an equal balance in the UK’s economy.
Britain’s future, and particularly the North of England’s, is reliant on the development of its strong manufacturing practices. It is also important that these practices are easily connected globally as emerging markets are offering excellent opportunities to the Western world.
Since manufacturing businesses are rich in value, UK companies must start to branch out and improve relationships with developing countries. The takeover of St Helens-based glassmaker Pilkington by Japan’s Nippon Sheet Glass is a good example of how strong Northern manufacturers can attract foreign investors.
With Jaguar-Land Rover in Liverpool and Crewe-based Bentley, car manufacturing is powerful in parts of the North, too. Sunderland is home to the European division of the Japanese car manufacturer Nissan. It is the largest car plant in the UK and the most productive in Europe.
For our economy to flourish, we must continue to support key manufacturing industries by encouraging them to evolve and grow. Britain needs a balanced economy. It is the nation’s manufacturers and those in the North of England that can make this happen.